WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — Experts with the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) believe there are more Asian giant hornet nests that they hope to eradicate.
Entomologist Sven Spichiger said based on where hornets have been located, including Birch Bay, Blaine, and Custer, it is believed the nest removed in October isn't the only one.
The first Asian giant hornet nest found in the United States was successfully eradicated from a tree in Blaine.
Heavily protected crews with WSDA eradicated the nest by vacuuming the hornets out. The nest was first discovered in a tree cavity, just over 8 feet up, on private property in Blaine. The property owner gave WSDA permission for the nest to be eradicated and for staff to remove the tree if necessary.
The following was found in the 14-inch-long nest:
- 6 combs
- Approximately 776 cells - each cell can hold a developing hornet
- 6 unhatched eggs
- 190 total larvae
- 108 capped cells with pupae - pupae are the next stage after larvae
- 112 workers
- 9 drones
- 76 queens which had emerged and 108 queens still in capped cells
Spichiger said the number of queens a relatively small nest could create "does give one a bit of pause." Had the nest not been found when it was, it would mean WSDA would be potentially dealing with even more nests when the hornets begin creating new colonies as temperatures warm back up next year.
The Asian giant hornet was first spotted in Washington state in 2019 and since then the WSDA has been on the hunt for the invasive species, which kills bees and takes the bee larvae to feed their own young.
Even if no other hornets are found, WSDA will continue to trap for at least three more years to demonstrate the area is free of the invasive species.